MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (first): "It's real tense on the restarts and we just led like the whole last half of the race and I didn't want to see it get away from me. And I knew the key to this victory was the way the...
MICHAEL WALTRIP, NO. 15 NAPA CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (first):
"It's real tense on the restarts and we just led like the whole last half of the race and I didn't want to see it get away from me. And I knew the key to this victory was the way the car handled. I could drive it and look out the rear view mirror. When I won the Daytona 500 the car was the same way. I did not even have to look out the front to drive it, I could look in the rearview mirror and make my decisions on what to do. It's just been a great weekend here in Daytona. We knew we would have an opportunity to do this. I want to send out my heart to Johnny Benson. I'm just torn up about that; and hopefully he's all right."
WHAT HAPPENED THERE? "I just tried to get in line and made a mistake. I hate that. It's killing me inside. And when I go to bed tonight after all the celebrating is over I have to lay down with that and that's hard. But that's why you see all these wrecks at these plate races because it's real easy to make a mistake and I just flat made one."
DID YOU THINK YOU WERE IN TROUBLE WHEN JUNIOR JUMPED ALONGSIDE OF YOU? "I didn't really like seeing that, but I had such a fast car. It's kind of like what would have happened at Talladega had I jumped up beside him with two to go. I had an opportunity to do that but his car was so much faster than mine I knew it wouldn't pay off for me. So I just had to bite my tongue and get in behind him and run second because I knew he had a better car. Tonight I had a better car and when he ran up beside me the cars behind you will go with the guy that's got the best car. They won't go with the guy making the move. Rusty dove down under Dale Jr., got behind me and it was over. I'm happy he did that because nobody can say we just rode around here in formation. I had the fastest car and it's a lot of thanks to all the guys that worked so hard on the NAPA Chevy. I'm looking at all their faces right now. Thank you guys, I love you. It makes it a lot of fun to come to a place and dominate like this."
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (sixth):
"We tried to make a pass on Michael for the win and we kind of came up short. We didn't get any drafting help. Michael went on to win the race. That's good. You just want to be able to win for the company and everything. And the company needs the win, Michael needs the win, but we need the win too. I stayed behind him most of the race, kept us both up front, and when it came down to the last few laps you gotta race. I don't think anybody, when they really sit down and think about it, would want us to kind of just sit there and cookie cutter the whole thing out. And orchestrate the finish. I tried to make a move on him and almost, I thought I had a good effort it, but Michael got more help."
DID YOU GUYS NOT GET ANY HELP? "Kind of. At the same time I knew Rusty don't never help me. I've raced for three years now and the man's never drafted with me once."
HAVE YOU BEEN FORMULATING THAT PLAN TO PASS MICHAEL? "I wanted to help Michael up until like10 to go or something and try to devise a plan to get around him. I was going to try to keep us both up there as close to the front as I could with 10 laps to go, give us a good shot at both of us winning the race. It worked out. It kept him up front. It's hard to pass the leader with the rules the way they are, only on restarts, and we got a good run on the restart there."
ARE YOU UPSET WITH YOURSELF? "Well, it's a tough situation to be in to make the right decision. I was trying to make good judgment calls and I got a lot of people working on my race car that cut and bleed on those things to go to victory lane and they don't want to see me give up the win just because my buddy Michael is leading the race. As a race car driver I've got to have a race team that's behind me 100 percent. I've got to do what it takes to try to win races for those guys. That's number one. Second comes the other teams the company, and the benefit of the company and all that stuff and what we can do to make it better, but when it comes down to it I have to drive as hard as I can for these 15 guys that work on the car."
WHY WERE PEOPLE THROWING DEBRIS ON THE TRACK? "I was wondering if Michael made some kind of hat trick. I don't know what it is."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (22nd):
"We had a cut tire. We had so many things. We had some good luck because we missed a lot of big wrecks. But we had bad luck with a cut tire and some other things and just could never get our lap back and just kind of fought and fought and fought and never could get it back. So, I guess we should feel fortunate to finish 22nd. We were looking good, got up there to second, made a great effort. Had a good car. Then we came in and had a problem with the fender brace. We had to fix it or we would have cut another tire, so that cost us time. We never could get back into position to get our lap back."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (eighth):
"At the end I worked my way through the pack and was ahead of that last caution but every caution that happened all day long we sustained some damage in it, in some way, shape or form. And spent every caution lap on pit road try to fix it and work my way back up through the pack again and get caught up in another one. And it was just a repeated cycle over and over and over. To come out of here with an eighth place finish^Ê there's no way we should have finished. Our car is destroyed, but we'll take it. A great points day for the championship and for the Rookie of the Year battle."
MIKE SKINNER, NO. 4 KODAK FILMS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (37th, involved in crash on lap 136):
"I really don't know what happened. My crew guys told me that one veteran was blocking the other one didn't know what the brake pedal was for. I know we were up there on the outside and all of a sudden I saw just out of my peripheral vision a car coming up the race track. We were a sitting duck. There was nothing we could do. Awful early to be racing like that, I think. We were all right there in a pack. We just sometimes have to take what our cars will give us, try not to get too much out of them."
ROBBY GORDON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (29th, hit in pits on lap 18):
"I pulled out of my pit and Kurt Busch hit me. He was supposed to pit three or four pits down. He took off my front fenders and we were out of the race from there. We just kind of survived and I'm fairly pleased with a top 30 finish, so we hopefully didn't fall too far in points."
MIKE WALLACE, NO. 33 1-800-CALL ATT CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO (hit the wall on lap 18:)
"It appears that there was a yellow car from behind that caught us in the right rear, and I got turned around. Unfortunately, you can't run into cars on the straightaways. We're just all racing and running that hard and we were up on the outside and just got hit in the right rear, turned into the wall and turned around. Fortunately, nobody else was involved in it, but it's a shame for the 800-CALL-ATT car because we had a good race car and unfortunately somebody was a little more rambunctious than we were." WILL YOU REPAIR IT? "They're going to try to tune it up a little bit. We're going to try to get out there and make a good showing, the best showing we can for the sponsor. Of course, anytime you damage a speedway car^Ê you're out of the race. We're laps down. We're going to try to continue to race but it's very unfortunate because we thought we had a car that was really capable of winning the race here tonight."